What’s it all about? Basically, I want to prove to people that diabetes shouldn’t be a barrier to leading a normal life. Yes, I have had to adapt and learn how to manage my blood sugar effectively; Before every meal, at bed time and first thing in the morning, I prick my finger and test my blood; when it comes to diet, I look at what’s in front of me more than I used to; and I can tell, just from looking, how many units of insulin I need to get via my Animas Vibe insulin pump. It was tougher to manage in the early days, but now I am expert at keeping my blood glucose level within a normal person’s range and this is precisely because I’m exercising and eating properly. In other words I’ve tried to absorb being Type 1 Diabetic into my normal life rather than the other way around, I certainly don’t feel any different.
In the desert it was more difficult to monitor and manage this – and it will be even tougher in the Arctic. The challenge is to keep my sugar levels within a safe range, which means being rigged up to a continuous glucose monitor 24/7. I have to calibrate it in the morning and at night, but when I’m running I can see what my level trend is at all times, and take immediate action if it starts to increase or decrease.
The Marathon des Sables was the toughest challenge I had ever taken on. I expect the Arctic to be, for somebody like me who hates the cold, even harder. If I succeed then I will be the first Type 1 diabetic ever to finish both these events. The motivation for me remains the same: to raise awareness of diabetes and to demonstrate that it shouldn’t be a barrier to doing things – even things that seem as crazy as the Marathon des Sables or Arctic Ultra Marathon!